Monday, November 29, 2010

Men's Hockey - Rensselaer Holiday Tournament (26/27 Nov)

It wasn't easy, but the streak is finally over for the Engineers in their own tournament. Given that it had been nine years since RPI won the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament - which has been known by many names over the 60 straight seasons it has run, it probably wasn't ever going to be simple for the Engineers to skate off with the title, even with the relatively weak field most observers saw coming to Troy. The Engineers had to fight back from a pair of 2-goal deficits on Friday but beat UConn 6-5, then had to bounce back from yet another late goal in the title game to win in overtime over Bowling Green, 3-2.




The big news on Friday before the game was sophomore Bryce Merriam getting his first action of the season in net, but also of note were the jumbling of lines. Tyler Helfrich was moved off the top line for the first time this season with the hopes of helping to develop a bigger second line scoring threat. Higgs was moved onto that line as well, moving Angers-Goulet down to the fourth line.

The Engineers dominated the first period, throwing an impressive 20 shots on net against UConn goaltender Garrett Bartus, but he was up to the task, making 20 saves. Instead, it was the Huskies that would take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, scoring their goal on an odd-man rush created by a bad transition from the Engineers.

RPI got a rough start to the second period, failing to follow up on the dominance of the first that had fans expecting that the game was still in hand despite trailing by a goal. The Huskies started turning the shot disparity around and ultimately took a 2-0 lead on a power play goal following an interference call against Pat Koudys.

Things finally got going less than a minute later. Jeff Foss whipped a head-man pass up to Alex Angers-Goulet, who streaked up the boards and came in on Bartus all alone, putting it home to make it 2-1 just 55 seconds after the second UConn goal. Later in the period, Bryan Brutlag scored on a rip from near the blue line that tied the score at two. Things seemed to be going well for the Engineers as the third period began.

But early in the third period, RPI would go down again, and it happened in much the same fashion as the first goal of the game. UConn broke out of its own zone very well, getting an odd-man rush and scoring on a shot that Merriam probably would want to have back, regaining the lead at 3-2. About four minutes later, the Huskies had their two-goal lead back after the Engineers failed to clear the puck. Another shot that Merriam probably should have gotten to popped the top of the net to make it 4-2. Coach-for-a-night Bryan Vines called timeout to try and stem the tide.

The second comeback, like the first one, began in short order. About a minute and a half later, the Engineers cut the deficit in half with a rebound goal scored by Helfrich, and the momentum definitely began to go in RPI's direction. It started to look like the tying goal was inevitable.

Then the energy was sucked out of the building in a hurry. Patrick Cullen and C.J. Lee crashed the net in search of that tying goal, and Cullen, carrying the puck, was upended by a defender taking out his legs. Cullen went flying through the air, striking Lee in the head with his skate, and Lee crumpled to the ice in a hurry. The game was delayed for almost 15 minutes as trainers and EMTs attended to Lee, who had been knocked out for a short time. As a precaution, Lee was put into a neck brace, placed on a backboard, and stretchered off the ice. The Field House was extremely quiet throughout the ordeal.

Once the teams got back to it, however, the Engineers proved that they hadn't lost their momentum. Just seconds after the game resumed - and indeed, only about a minute-and-a-half of game time after the Helfrich goal - the tying goal came from Chase Polacek, who put back a rebound off a Mike Bergin shot to bring the game level once again.

RPI took the lead on one of the worst giveaways you will ever see. With UConn holding the puck in their own zone and every Engineer but Angers-Goulet falling back, the Huskies promptly passed it directly to Angers-Goulet, who was standing directly in front of the crease. Before Bartus could react to the turnover, Angers-Goulet had already rifled it past him for an unassisted goal to put RPI up 5-4. But the Huskies weren't done. After an RPI giveaway in the neutral zone, UConn entered the zone one-on-one and scored on another shot York probably would have had, knotting things a third time, 5-5.

The response was relatively quick, and it was assisted by a pair of calls against UConn. The first was an interference call shortly after the ensuing center ice faceoff that put RPI on the power play, and Chase Polacek converted, threading the needle between Bartus and the post to put RPI back up 6-5. The second penalty came with less than 3 minutes left in the game, giving the Huskies little opportunity to come back. They did give the Engineers fits with the goaltender pulled - something isn't new for RPI this year - but the home team survived to advance to the title game after a wild, back and forth affair.

Merriam made 30 saves on the night, but many of the goals were relatively soft. It was reminiscent of his rough outing against Princeton in last year's Freakout.

Lee was taken to Albany Med, where a battery of tests were run, all thankfully negative.

The Engineers advanced to take on Bowling Green on Saturday. The Falcons had been 5-1 winners over Alabama-Huntsville in the first game of the tournament.

Bowling Green



Lee was back at Houston Field House on Saturday night, having been diagnosed with a concussion but alert and otherwise fine. He was held out on Saturday and will be held out this coming weekend as a precaution, just to make sure there are no lingering effects - see the interview linked below.

With Lee out, Seth Appert needed to jumble the lines once again. Bryan Brutlag was moved to the top scoring line for the first time, and Marty O'Grady centered the second line in place of Joel Malchuk, who apparently also had his bell rung in the UConn game.

Allen York was always likely to play the second night, especially if the Engineers were playing for a title, but given Merriam's struggles, it was practically a sure thing.

The first period was a relatively placid and ultimately boring affair. Both teams had one power play, neither of which got anything going. BGSU led 5-3 in shots after the period, which underscores the lack of scoring chances either way.

The scoring started early in the second instead, as Tyler Helfrich put back a shot from Marty O'Grady to make it 1-0. Just over a minute later, Nick Bailen, playing against his former team, brought the puck up ice and whipped a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle, finding the back of the net to give RPI a 2-0 lead.

Bowling Green cut the lead in half on the power play late in the period as sophomore Jordan Samuels-Thomas, the Falcons' top scorer, scored on an odd bounce that found its way behind York to make it 2-1.

The Falcons controlled play throughout the third period, and the longer time went by, it was becoming fairly obvious that the Engineers were going to need a third goal in order to be able to breathe easy. After both teams had only one penalty each in the first two penalties, both took three apiece in the third, including a pair of matching minors that set up four-on-four situations, but BGSU outshot RPI 13-5 in the third. With the 2-1 score holding into the final minute, Bowling Green pulled the goaltender and held the RPI zone, and once again, the inability to clear the puck came back to haunt the Engineers. Brutlag nabbed the puck with about 12 seconds left but couldn't get it out, turning it over to Brett Mohler, who found David Solway. Solway (who originally joined Nick Bailen in leaving Bowling Green before changing his decision upon a firm commitment from the school to its program) ripped a shot with less than 10 seconds left in regulation that beat York to tie the game - reminiscent of the Union game in Lake Placid and the Harvard game.

RPI was determined to get it back. Off the overtime faceoff, Chase Polacek had a scoring opportunity that drew a faceoff in the BGSU zone, and while the Falcons won that faceoff, they couldn't clear the zone as expected, and Polacek zipped the puck behind the defense to Bryan Brutlag, who scored to alleviate his error just 30 in-game seconds after Bowling Green had tied it to give RPI the overtime victory, 3-2, and their first RPI Tournament title since 2001.

Brutlag was named the MVP of the tournament for his two goals and one assist on the weekend. Also named to the all-tournament team was Allen York for his 24 save showing on Saturday, Nick Bailen (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jeff Foss (2 assists, +3) were the all-tournament defensemen, and Chase Polacek (2 goals, 1 assist) and Tyler Helfrich (2 goals) were all-tournament forwards. The only non-RPI player on the all-tournament team was Jordan Samuels-Thomas of BGSU (2 goals, 1 assist on the weekend).

Things get serious this week, as the Engineers depart on what is arguably the most difficult road weekend on the ECAC schedule - that is, of course, given that RPI and Union, unlike the rest of the league, don't have to worry about the newly dreaded weekend in the Capital District. Yale (8-1-0) is first on the docket this Friday, and while the Engineers are no longer the top defensive team in the nation after giving up 5 goals to UConn on Saturday (that's actually Union now), RPI will be the most difficult defense that the Bulldogs have faced to date. Brown (3-2-3) have proven that they are no slouches this season either, having forced high-ranking UNH and BU to have to come from behind in order to settle for ties in the last two weeks, and we saw at the end of last season what they are capable of. Points this weekend will be made of gold, because Yale and Brown are likely to be tough for other teams to beat in their building (much like Dartmouth).

This may be one of the biggest travel partner weekends in recent memory in the ECAC - it includes all three of the ECAC's ranked teams (more on that in a moment) with the fourth nearly ranked. With a big non-conference game at home against BU right around the corner the following weekend, these next two weeks could be a big coming out party for the Engineers if all goes swimmingly well.

Other junk - The tournament victory moved the Engineers up the ladder in the USCHO poll for the second consecutive week, drawing 231 votes to land as the 16th ranked team in the nation this week. #2 Yale (up one, beat Sacred Heart at home) and #13 Union (no change, idle) are the only other ECAC teams ranked this week. Once again, #2 Boston University (no change, tied Brown at home) is the only other opponent on the RPI schedule this year that is ranked this week, BU and Yale both received 901 votes (with one first place vote going to BU) to tie for #2. Other RPI opponents receiving votes this week were Dartmouth (21), Brown (15), Clarkson (2), Niagara (2), and Colorado College (1).

With the ECAC table getting very unbalanced - as usual, Princeton (due to their exam schedule), Harvard (due to the Beanpot and their exam schedule), Quinnipiac and Dartmouth (as travel partners) have an inordinate number of games played compared to most of the remainder of the league. So we've added the usual ranking by winning percentage to assist you in interpreting the ECAC table.

ECAC Standings
1. Dartmouth - 5-2-1 (11 pts)
2. Princeton - 5-2-0 (10 pts)
3. Yale - 4-0-0 (8 pts)
4. Quinnipiac - 3-3-1 (7 pts)
5. Brown - 2-1-1 (5 pts)
6. Union - 2-1-1 (5 pts)
7. Clarkson - 2-2-1 (5 pts)
8. RPI - 2-2-0 (4 pts)
9. St. Lawrence - 2-3-0 (4 pts)
10. Cornell - 2-4-0 (4 pts)
11. Harvard - 2-6-0 (4 pts)
12. Colgate - 0-5-1 (1 pt)

Adjusted Standings
1. Yale (1.000)
2. Princeton (.714)
3. Dartmouth (.688)
4. Brown (.625, 4 GP, +3 GD)
5. Union (.625, 4 GP, +1 GD)
6. RPI (.500, 4 GP)
7. Clarkson (.500, 5 GP)
8. Quinnipiac (.500, 7 GP)
9. St. Lawrence (.400, 5 GP)
10. Cornell (.333)
11. Harvard (.250)
12. Colgate (.083)

UConn at #17 RPI

RPI Holiday Tournament First Round - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/26/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, UConn 5

RECORD: 6-3-3 (2-2-0 ECAC, 4 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Chase Polacek, 2 G
2. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 2 G
3. F Bryan Brutlag, 1 G, 1 A

Bowling Green at #17 RPI
RPI Holiday Tournament Championship - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/27/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Bowling Green 2 (OT)

RECORD: 7-3-3 (2-2-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Bryan Brutlag, GWG
2. D Nick Bailen, 1 G
3. G Allen York, 24 saves

Upcoming games
03 Dec - at #2 Yale
04 Dec - at Brown
11 Dec - #2 Boston University
19 Dec - US Junior National Team (exhibition)
30 Dec - at Alabama-Huntsville

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Syracuse (26/27 Nov)

RPI wrapped up its non-conference play for the 2010-2011 season this weekend with a pair of games at Syracuse. Fortunately for the Engineers, this season’s trip to Syracuse treated them better than last, as RPI picked up a 2-1 win on Friday before skating to a 2-2 draw on Saturday.



Le Donne/Vadner

Van der Bliek

The first period saw a strong showing from Syracuse, who pressured RPI through the midpoint of the period until Ashley Cockell took a 5-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind. Despite the long advantage, RPI could not get a shot past Syracuse netminder Kallie Billadeau, who made 8 saves in the opening frame.

After trading penalties early in the second period, Syracuse got on the board first as Isabel Menard took a pass from Akane Hosoyamada and beat Sonja van der Bliek to give the Orange a 1-0 lead. The goal came nearly a minute into a Syracuse power play as Sydney O’Keefe was serving a holding penalty.

Jordan Smelker took a cross-checking penalty after the goal, which RPI successfully killed to get back to 5-on-5 play. At 12:31, Alisa Harrison passed the puck to Sierra Vadner at the point who fired one past Billadeau to tie the game at one.

Taylor Horton scored the eventual game-winner about six minutes later after Harrison fed her from behind the net. Horton took the pass and beat Billadeau with a shot to the corner of the net for a 2-1 lead.

The lead held up for the Engineers in the final period, despite Syracuse getting three power play opportunities and throwing 13 shots on van der Bliek. RPI managed just 6 shots in the final period, but escaped with the 2-1 win intact.



Le Donne/Vadner


Saturday’s match saw Shannon Ramelot back in net for the Engineers, picking up some additional ice time in the final non-conference game of the season. Ramelot was forced to make a number of saves in the first period, with Syracuse racking up a 12-5 shot advantage, but it was RPI that scored in the period, notching a pair of goals on those five shots.

Alisa Harrison notched the Engineers first goal on the power play at 14:27 of the first, with Taylor Horton and Jordan Smelker picking up assists. Kendra Dunlop extended RPI’s lead to 2-0 at 16:56 on an unassisted tally.

Syracuse had an answer for the Engineers’ first period, as they would pick up two goals of their own in the second. Julie Rising notched a breakaway goal just 1:22 into the period. Several penalties ensued for each team, but it wasn’t until 11:03 that Syracuse converted on a cross-checking call against Andie Le Donne, with Ashley Cockell taking a pass from Isabel Menard and putting it past Ramelot for the tie.

A pair of RPI penalties in the third period gave Syracuse some opportunity for the winner, but RPI carried momentum in the final frame, peppering Syracuse backup goalie Jenesica Drinkwater with 11 shots but not finding another goal in the cards. Overtime passed with a 3-2 shot advantage for the Engineers but no additional scoring, and it went in the books a 2-2 tie.

RPI returns to its ECAC schedule next weekend, with their home and home against Union. The teams will play Friday night at 7pm in Houston Field House, before traveling to Messa Rink in Schenectady for the rematch Saturday afternoon at 4. After the missed opportunity for points at Brown a couple weeks ago, the Engineers will need to play hard against the Dutchwomen in order to maintain pace in the standings. Neither game will be carried on WRPI, however live stats and live tweets will be available online.


RPI at Syracuse
Non-Conference Game – Tennity Ice Pavilion (Syracuse, NY)
11/16/10 – 7:00pm
RPI 2, SU 1


RECORD: 5-7-4 (3-3-0 ECAC)


RPI at Syracuse
Non-Conference Game – Tennity Ice Pavilion (Syracuse, NY)
11/27/10 – 2:00pm
RPI 2, SU 2 (OT)


RECORD: 5-7-5 (3-3-0 ECAC)


ECAC Standings Points ECAC All
Cornell                 12              6-0             10-1
Dartmouth 10 5-3 6-4
Harvard 10 4-2-2 4-4-2
Quinnipiac 8 4-5 11-6-1
Clarkson 7 3-1-1 6-8-3
Princeton 7 3-5-1 3-9-1
St. Lawrence 6 3-2 7-6-2
Rensselaer 6 3-3 5-7-5
Yale 5 2-3-1 3-7-2
Brown 4 1-3-2 2-6-2
Colgate 4 2-4 5-11
Union 1 0-5-1 1-11-1

Upcoming Games

Dec. 3 – at Union (7pm)
Dec. 4 – Union (4pm)
Jan. 7 – Dartmouth (3pm)
Jan. 8 – Harvard (3pm)
Jan. 14 – Cornell (7pm)
Jan. 15 – Colgate (4pm)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eh, Why Not

See the title. Feel the title.

Yeah, it's just two games, but come on. It's been nine years. Just enjoy the moment.

All Tournament Team
G - Allen York, RPI
D - Nick Bailen, RPI
D - Jeff Foss, RPI
F - Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Bowling Green
F - Chase Polacek, RPI
F - Tyler Helfrich, RPI

MVP - Bryan Brutlag, RPI

Friday, November 26, 2010

Long Time Coming

December, 2001:
* Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
* John Walker Lindh is arrested in Afghanistan.
* Zacarias Moussaoui is indicted on charges related to involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
* Richard Reid attempts to destroy American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb concealed in his shoes.
* Hamid Karzai is sworn in as the interim President of Afghanistan.
* And on the 29th, RPI defeats UMass, 3-2 in overtime, to win their own tournament for the 16th time.

They haven't won since in eight consecutive tries. It's been a while, hasn't it?

That's not the longest drought - the Engineers won the tournament in 1964 and then not again until 1976 - but it's by far the longest since the tournament was dropped from a three-game round-robin to a two-game championship/consolation format in 1981. Before the class of 2006 graduated, no class had failed to win the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament since the change of format. We've now seen five consecutive classes graduate without winning, and in the meantime, the tournament has been won by Merrimack, Northeastern, Air Force, Nebraska-Omaha, Niagara, Notre Dame, Mercyhurst, and Union. Yeah, that's not an overly impressive list - the Irish are the only overly solid team that stands out.

We outlined on Wednesday why the Engineers should win this year. But they've had a number of other years that they should have won recently, too. No excuses this year. Anything short of a title tomorrow night is failure.

Here's the #1 rock song from the last week of 2001 to pump you up for the weekend. It's a band you might have heard of if you've been tuned into popular music at all in the last decade.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Brief History of Pumpup

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Or, if you're in Canada, happy Thursday.

Here's a little something I threw together this week. Knowing that the team likes to take the ice to "The Ecstasy of Gold" when the band isn't around (as may well be the case this weekend), I put together a hypothetical introduction video for the forthcoming video board which will be installed at center ice and new sound system. We continue to hear conflicting reports as to when exactly these things will be installed - some have suggested that they will be installed over winter break (they would have between 12 and 14 working days to get the work done between the game against the US Junior Team on Dec. 19 and the Clarkson game on Jan. 7).

I'm not the best photoshopper in the world, as well established here, and I'm not the best video producer either, but I think this video at least gets the gist of it down.

Imagine Houston Field House at 10 minutes to seven on a Saturday night. The zambonis have just left the darkened ice surface. As the countdown clock reaches 9:00, the video board and sound system come to life:

As the video ends, the RPI goaltender hits the ice, and the Pep Band starts to play "Hail, Dear Old Rensselaer" as the team streams over to the west end of the ice to line up for the starting lineups. How pumped up are you at this point?

Obviously, the video could use some tweaking - video segments at the end to represent the current Engineers, maybe changing with each game, for instance - but I've got to say, it would be a perfect, and classy way to use the video board to get the crowd going before the game starts. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tonight's Podcast: Flying Solo

Since it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, we're going to go without scheduled guests this week as many of our potential guests are traveling in anticipation of the holidays. In fact, if not for the annual Holiday Tournament, we'd probably roll-up the podcast entirely this week... but duty calls. So the podcast will roll on, airing early this week - tonight, November 24th, at 5:00 p.m. Just click "Listen to Without A Peer" in the corner at the witching hour to tune in.

We'll run through the tournament field, giving you the names and numbers you need to know for the 60th annual Rensselaer Holiday Tournament - the oldest in-season tournament in college hockey. We'll go through the results around the college hockey world last week while the Engineers were off.

The women skated to a pair of ties with Niagara last weekend to kick off their last stretch of non-conference action, and they end their non-conference schedule this weekend at Syracuse, so we'll talk about the Orange as well.

Last week, we wrapped up the RPI-Union weekend by talking to Ed Weaver and Ed DerGurahian. You can listen on demand below.

Listen to internet radio with Without a Peer on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

RPI Holiday Tournament, By The Numbers

Want to know how much RPI should be favored in this tournament? Just look at how the numbers break down by national ranking.

Team Offense (goals per game)
35. UConn - 2.60
39. RPI - 2.55
55. Bowling Green - 2.07
56. Alabama-Huntsville - 2.00

Team Defense (GAA)
1. RPI - 1.82
40. Bowling Green - 3.36
51. UConn - 3.60
56. Alabama-Huntsville - 4.25

Power Play
11. Alabama-Huntsville - 23.1% (15/65)
31. RPI - 16.9% (11/65)
33. UConn - 16.3% (8/49)
56. Bowling Green - 7.2% (5/69)

Penalty Kill
17. UConn - 86.3% (44/51)
31. RPI - 82.5% (52/63)
44. Alabama-Huntsville 76.8% (53/69)
48. Bowling Green - 75.9% (63/83)

Those are some pretty weak offenses - not that RPI's offense is terribly decent, but the defensive advantage that they hold should be enough to stifle the other offenses in the tournament, at least enough to score a few goals. The team the Engineers face on Saturday is going to have an especially anemic offense.

What RPI should be keeping an eye on during this tournament is the showdown in New Haven next Friday. As we mentioned yesterday, the hype with Yale is the nation's best offense, but RPI counters with the nation's best defense (at least, for now). The game may well revolve around how well the Engineers' fair offense manages Yale's mediocre defense. RPI has to learn how to score on mediocre defenses, and this weekend's games will certainly provide the opportunity to practice.

This may be the weekend when we finally see Bryce Merriam get some action between the pipes as well, to help ensure that Allen York is healthy for a key ECAC road weekend.

There's no reason to be sitting back, though. We've seen the Engineers facing some weak tournament fields in the past only to come up empty. UConn tied #10 Maine and #13 Union earlier this year. Bowling Green has a victory over #11 Notre Dame. Alabama-Huntsville has only one victory this season, but it was against #20 Ferris State. RPI needs to be on high alert for the letdown upset this weekend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cold Water

We've been hearing some excited murmurs over the Engineers' current position in the PairWise Rankings. Strictly applied, RPI currently sits in 16th in the PWR. Given that there are 16 teams in the NCAA tournament field and the Atlantic Hockey champion pretty much always displaces the 16th ranked team in the PWR, it appears the Engineers are at least on the cusp of fighting for a place in the national tournament, right?

Allow me to temper your enthusiasm.

Examining the PWR this early in the season is a fool's errand. That's because the four elements of the system are wildly in flux right now. From week to week, the PWR looks very different right now. A team could be in a position for a #1 seed one week, and out of the tournament altogether the next week. Why? Consider this.

RPI: The Ratings Percentage Index is the most fundamental component of the PWR, and serves as a tiebreaker when teams are tied in the comparison. This early in the season, a team's RPI can fluctuate quickly because of the comparatively small sample size when held against games played later in the season. Yale is a perfect example - their 7-1-0 record has them number one in RPI right now. Not surprisingly, the PWR ranking is exactly the same as the RPI rankings right now.

TUC: The most underdeveloped element this early is the record against other Teams Under Consideration. In order for the TUC comparison to take place, both teams in a comparison must have 10 games against TUCs - something no team has right now (RPI has five - three against Union, one against Dartmouth, and one against Niagara). By February, most TUCs, at least those from the WCHA, CCHA, Hockey East, and ECAC, should have at least 10 games against other TUCs. Until that happens, this category doesn't even exist.

COp: In each comparision, the record against common opponents of the two teams in the comparison factors in. This early in the season, there's not much going on here unless the compared teams are in the same conference. Even if there is something going on, it's usually going to be one of only two categories that are used in a given comparison - meaning that it doesn't matter given that the RPI is the tiebreaker. Either a team wins both RPI and COp and wins the comparison, or the team wins the RPI and loses the COp, but wins on the RPI tiebreaker. Therefore, the RPI is the only thing that matters.

H2H: The head to head comparison is not always relevant since many comparisons will feature teams that will not play each other, but where applicable this early in the season, its meaning is typically overblown, especially in cases where teams have multiple wins over others. Taking a weekend sweep in a WCHA or CCHA series pretty much secures a PairWise comparison victory this early in the season (since that team is also likely to then be ahead in RPI). That will lessen to merely providing a major advantage later in the year.

So that's it. The bottom line is that we aren't going to see enough teams with 10 games against TUCs until mid-January at the earliest - and that is when you can start looking at the PWR and start divining which teams are NCAA contenders. Sorry, folks.

Over the last several seasons, I have produced a weekly "Husky Bracketology" article for my friends at, a St. Cloud State fan site. Each week, I would run through the PairWise and give my estimation for what the NCAA field looks like and what teams SCSU supporters should be cheering for in the next weekend of games to improve the Huskies' chances of having a high NCAA position.

Since starting that, I have yearned for the opportunity to do a similar "Engineer Bracketology" (expanding on the fact that Jayson Moy, the former voice of RPI Hockey and an RPI alum, is considered the pre-eminent College Hockey Bracketologist in the known universe). I'm hopeful that in the near future, it'll be something we can talk about, maybe even this season. But now is not the time for it. I have dreams, as we all do, but I try to keep my writing focused on reality.

I do promise this, however. If mid-January arrives and the Engineers are ranked in the PairWise and aren't just some fringe TUC, we'll have a weekly Engineer Bracketology column here at Without a Peer until such time as an at-large bid is unreasonable.

In the meantime, some things to remember for RPI fans hopeful that the Engineers will in fact be in the mix for an at-large bid:

1) RPI needs to keep playing well. Nothing else matters if this doesn't happen. Statement games are just around the corner - at Yale on December 3rd and at home against BU on December 11th. These games may not break the Engineers, but they could help make them.
2) Root for ECAC teams in non-conference games.
3) Root for RPI's past non-conference opponents, especially the ones they beat. That means we're all Niagara fans from here on out.
4) This week only, hope RPI plays and beats Bowling Green on Saturday. It's the only potential game against CCHA competition this year, and a win over BGSU would be important in COp comparisons with the many CCHA teams that are likely to be TUCs this year - Alabama-Huntsville has a number of CCHA teams on their schedule, but A) RPI's already got two other games against them, and B) BGSU plays every CCHA team at least twice.

See, now I'm getting too technical. Number 1 is the main focus.

Other junk - Despite being idle this week, the Engineers moved up one slot in the national USCHO rankings, moving from 18th to 17th in the country. The other two ranked ECAC teams also moved up - #3 Yale (up two, swept Cornell and Colgate on the road) and #13 Union (up one, idle). #2 Boston University (no change) remains the only other opponent on the Engineers' schedule this season. Other opponents receiving votes this week were Quinnipiac (42, missed being ranked #20 by 6 votes), Dartmouth (9), Colorado College (5), Princeton (5), Niagara (4), Clarkson (3), and Brown (1).

RPI has displaced Harvard as the top rated defensive team in the nation with a team GAA of 1.82 thanks to Quinnipiac hanging five goals on Kyle Richter and then Ryan Carroll on Saturday. It's not by much, though - Allen York and his blueliners lead second-ranked Boston College by just 0.01 goals allowed per game (20 allowed in 11 games against 22 allowed in 12 games).

Speaking of York, his 1.78 GAA is 6th in the nation and his .931 save percentage is 10th.

Nick Bailen is still tied for third nationally in scoring among defensemen with 12 points - his 1.09 points per game has him second behind only Robert Morris senior Denny Urban in that category for blueliners.

Yale's offense is pretty ridiculous. They are not only the top rated offense in the nation, their 5.25 goals per game is more than a whole goal per game more than second rated Nebraska-Omaha, who clocks in at 4.17. The Bulldogs have scored 14 more goals than the Engineers so far this season, and they did it in 3 less games. If not for their loss to Air Force two weekends ago, they'd still be undefeated and probably ranked #1 in the country right now.

Upcoming games
26 Nov - UConn (RPI Invitational)
27 Nov - Alabama-Huntsville/Bowling Green (RPI Invitational)
03 Dec - at #3 Yale
04 Dec - at Brown
11 Dec - #2 Boston University

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Women's Hockey - Niagara (19/20 Nov)

The Engineers played their first of two consecutive weekends of non-conference hockey at Houston Field House on Friday and Saturday with a back-to-back pair against the Niagara Purple Eagles of the CHA. Despite Niagara’s 3-8-1 record entering the weekend, they had defeated one of the top teams in women’s hockey – Mercyhurst, and gave RPI fits in a pair of 1-1 ties that were each marked by sloppy play by both teams andlate goals to decide the outcome.



Le Donne/Vadner

Van der Bliek

The first period saw RPI come out strong, controlling play through most of the frame and piling 12 shots on Niagara netminder Sarah Moses while the Purple Eagles were unable to get a single shot on goal for more than five minutes to start the game. The Engineers scoring woes continued throughout the period, however, as they continued to search for their first goal since the early third period against Yale last Friday. A power play for RPI gave the Engineers a taste of what they were in for on the weekend as sloppy passing led to an inability to hold the Niagara zone and an easy penalty kill on the only penalty of the first.

The second period saw more turnovers than any in recent memory, and another Niagara penalty was easily killed thanks to poor puck control in the attacking zone. With Niagara holding the momentum through much of the second, the scoring deadlock was broken at 7:35 when Sonja van der Bliek sprawled to cover a puck loose in front of the crease but missed it. While players battled for the puck, Nona Letuligasenoa took a delayed call for cross-checking a Niagara player from behind, and with the referee’s arm up, Jenna Hendrikx buried the loose puck to take a 1-0 lead. On the ensuing Niagara power play (as a rule change this season causes goals on delayed penalties to not wave off the penalty) the Engineers stood strong despite some heavy pressure from Niagara.

Late in the second period, Niagara’s Caitlin Jenkins found herself on a breakaway with Sierra Vadner close behind. Unable to catch up, Vadner slashed Jenkins to stop the shot, and the official immediately signaled for a penalty shot. Jenkins lost the handle on the puck while skating in from center ice, and van der Bliek wasn’t even forced to make a save on the play. Just seconds before the whistle, the officials botched an icing call where Niagara was clearly ahead of the RPI skaters chasing down the puck, and rather than take the faceoff to center ice as the rules require when a mistake is made on an icing call, the officials gave the Purple Eagles an offensive zone draw. Obviously this drew the ire of coach Burke as it gave Niagara one last opportunity in the period, but RPI was able to win the draw and run out the clock. Perhaps some level of vindication was achieved after the period when an ECAC official pulled aside the referees on their way to the locker room and explained why their handling of the call was incorrect.

The third period saw the scales and momentum tip back in RPI’s favor, but only slightly as both teams continued to have trouble with puck control and passing. Toni Sanders had a point-blank chance near the midpoint of the period, but fired the puck directly into Moses’ chest. It was looking like RPI might be shutout for the second straight game when some last minute heroics saved the day for the Engineers. With van der Bliek on the bench in favor of the extra attacker and 43.5 seconds left on the clock, Clare Padmore picked up a rebound off a scrum in front of the Niagara net and put it past Moses to tie the game at one.

Neither team looked to be playing for the win in overtime, with Niagara falling on the puck and tying it up along the boards multiple times, and the game went in the books as a 1-1 draw. The Engineers probably counted themselves lucky to salvage a tie from the game, in which they had little rhythm or flow to their play. The most noticeable concern was an inability to score, which would continue to plague RPI through the rest of the weekend.



Le Donne/Vadner


Saturday’s game started out in almost the exact same fashion as Friday’s – after a few chances by Niagara in the very early going, RPI controlled the ice for most of the first period but couldn’t get many quality shots. Just past the midpoint of the period, the weekend’s second penalty shot was awarded – this time to RPI as Niagara’s Chelsea Witwicke closed her hand on the puck inside her own goal crease during a prolonged scrum where goalie Jenni Bauer couldn’t find the puck. Alisa Harrison took the shot for the Engineers but just like Jenkins the night before, Harrison couldn’t keep a handle on the puck and only got off a weak shot which went into Bauer’s pads.

The first period ended with no score and so did the second – although the Engineers were playing better than Friday night, it was still by no means an excellent showing by either team. RPI put shot after shot across the Niagara crease through the second period, but never had a player crashing the net to put any of them home. With better positioning, the Engineers could have been up by several goals as Bauer had a hard time sliding across the crease to keep up with the feeds.

RPI had a bit of a scare late in the second as Katie Daniels tried to corral the puck near the Engineer net and slide it to Ramelot for a whistle. Ramelot wasn’t expecting the puck and Daniels nearly put it in the Engineer net, but after a moment of confusion Ramelot covered the puck for the whistle. Niagara’s Jessica Hitchcock had the opportunity of the game just after, as Ramelot was caught out of position leaving a wide open net to shoot at. Hitchcock shot clear over the crossbar, even throwing her arms up in celebration for a moment on what should have been a guaranteed goal. As the call on WRPI put it – “that shot was easier to make than to miss”.

Finally, at 13:13 of the third period, the Engineers got the bounce they needed as Sydney O’Keefe lobbed a shot in from the blue line which deflected off Kristen Jakubowski in front of the Niagara net and past Bauer for a 1-0 lead. The Engineer lead didn’t last for long as just over a minute and a half later, a terrible turnover by RPI in the Niagara zone led to the Purple Eagles skating the puck down ice and scoring with what seemed to be no effort whatsoever to tie the game at 1. As was the case the day before, with the game tied Niagara looked to be playing for the tie, wrapping the puck up along the boards and falling on it to run time off the clock. RPI had a few chances in the rest of regulation, including a shot by Jordan Smelker which rang off the pipe, but the game would head to overtime and end as a 1-1 tie.

Perhaps most frustrating for the Engineers in coming away with a tie on Saturday was the fact that they played better than on Friday and had the ice tilted decidedly more in their favor, but still couldn’t pull out the win. As RPI faces Syracuse next weekend before entering the grueling remainder of the ECAC schedule, the Engineers are going to need to start finding offense and scoring some goals, as one a game is not going to do it against most of the ECAC.

Next weekend’s games against Syracuse are at 7pm (Friday) and 2pm (Saturday). WRPI will not carry either game, nor will Syracuse have video available. It’s questionable whether Syracuse will have live stats either, so fans looking to follow the games live from home may not have the opportunity.


RPI vs. Niagara
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/19/10 – 7:00pm
RPI 1, NU 1 (OT)



RECORD: 4-7-3 (3-3-0 ECAC)


RPI vs. Niagara
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/20/10 – 2:00pm
RPI 1, NU 1 (OT)



RECORD: 4-7-4 (3-3-0 ECAC)


ECAC Standings Points ECAC All
Cornell                 12              6-0             8-1
Dartmouth 10 5-3 6-3
Harvard 10 4-2-2 4-2-2
Quinnipiac 8 4-5 9-6-1
Clarkson 7 3-1-1 5-8-2
Princeton 7 3-5-1 3-7-1
St. Lawrence 6 3-2 6-6-2
Rensselaer 6 3-3 4-8-3
Yale 5 2-3-1 2-6-2
Brown 4 1-3-2 2-4-2
Colgate 4 2-4 5-9
Union 1 0-5-1 1-10-1

Upcoming Games

Nov. 26 – at Syracuse (7pm)
Nov. 27 – at Syracuse (2pm)
Dec. 3 – at Union (7pm)
Dec. 4 – Union (4pm)
Jan. 7 – Dartmouth (3pm)
Jan. 8 – Harvard (3pm)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ladies Night

The women take center stage this week with their home weekend against Niagara - the last non-conference games at Houston Field House this season.

We're not just here to get you pumped up for the men's games... it's time to get pumped up for the women this week! After a big win at a Yale and a big letdown at Brown, the Engineers have four games over the next two weekends to refuel and takeoff again. Hopefully by December, they'll be flying... like a G6.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tonight's Podcast: Ed Weaver, Ed DerGurahian

It's an all Ed podcast this week! We've moved the podcast to tonight (Thursday, November 18) due to the lack of a men's game this weekend, but there's still plenty to talk about.

The Troy Record's Ed Weaver will join us at the top of the show to discuss the RPI-Union weekend in detail, including the news that broke yesterday that RPI head coach Seth Appert has been suspended by the ECAC for the game against UConn next week due to his comments on Friday in Schenectady. We'll talk about the games, the goals that were, the goals that weren't, and all of the stuff surrounding.

WRPI analyst Ed DerGurahian was on color for both of the Route 7 Rivalry games, and we'll get his reaction to the weekend, as well as get his insight on the women's big game at Yale and big letdown at Brown. We'll also talk about this weekend's home series with Niagara, which he will be on the call for as well.

Click on "Listen to Without A Peer" in the upper right hand corner of the site to listen in. We go live at 8pm tonight.

In addition, WaP editor and podcast host Tom Reale will be on Fox Sports 980 (WOFX-AM, Troy) with the Schenectady Daily Gazette's Ken Schott and WRUC-FM analyst Brian Unger to talk about the fallout from the RPI-Union weekend this morning at 11:05am. You can listen on AM 980 if you're in the Capital District, if not you can check it out here.

Last week on the podcast, we talked to Schott and RPI defenseman Jeff Foss about the weekend series that still has people talking almost a week after it happened. Were their thoughts prescient? Check them out on demand with the player below.

Listen to internet radio with Without a Peer on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Appert Suspended One Game by the ECAC

Straight from the horse's mouth:
ALBANY, N.Y. -- ECAC Hockey today announced that Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert has been suspended one game as a result of his post-game actions after a game at Union, Friday November 12.

The League action was taken in accordance with Section VI. (Conduct and Ethics) of ECAC Hockey Policies and Procedures.

Appert will miss Rensselaer’s game Friday, November 22 versus Connecticut.
OK. Yes, most of us saw this coming.

Now, after looking for "ECAC Hockey Policies and Procedures," it was nowhere to be found. We did, however, find the ECAC East's bylaws. The ECAC East is a Division III conference still directly connected to the actual Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC Hockey split from the actual ECAC in 2004). They have a Section 5 called "Conduct and Ethics." It stands to reason that it's probably pretty much the same thing.
League Discipline
The ECAC commissioner is permitted to assess penalties (i.e., suspensions) on coaches and student-athletes for abusive or racial language, physical action with the intent to injure, negative language toward officiating in public forums (i.e., media) or other incidents, which the Commissioner deems as detrimental to the image of the League.
So basically, don't ever make the league look bad.

Here's the transcript. The first mention happened while Nick Bailen and John Kennedy were being interviewed, with Appert sitting nearby.
Ken Schott, The Daily Gazette: Nick, we'll start with you on the controversial ending. What did you see?

Nick Bailen: I just saw a lot of guys in front, and apparently we had goalie interference, but we can't put everything on that it was just... we should have won it earlier in the game and not given up so many (power plays). We had a good chance, we capitalized, it's just unfortunate that the calls didn't go our way at the end, but we can't blame everything on that.

Schott: What did you think of the call? You guys are celebrating for a couple seconds and then you guys come to find out it's waved off.

Seth Appert: You guys take a look and see. They're not going to comment on the call, but here it is if you want to watch it.

(places laptop on dais)

Appert: There's no comments. Refs make good calls, they make bad calls. We can all watch it and see if there's any interference.

(plays video)

Appert: So I don't think they'll have to answer any more questions on that again.

Schott: Are you... do you think you're going to get fined...

Appert: Back to them.
That looks pretty benign to me. Is this suspension based on showing a video of what actually happened, with no comments? Yes, it's obvious he was of the opinion that the wave-off was bogus. But he left it to the media to make that decision for themselves. They saw his reaction, they know how he felt from that alone. Are we going to suspend people for ever disagreeing with the referees? Does the simple showing of a video make the league look bad? If so, the league has to ask itself... WHY? Why does it make us look bad?

Perhaps it was later in the press conference, when Appert sat down at the dais.
Schott: Seth, are you concerned you might hear from the league about showing the video?

Appert: Why? Is there a policy that you can't show video?

Schott: I'm just asking.

Appert: I think the ref should be concerned about it.

Sean Martin, Albany Times Union: Did you talk to him? What did he say?

Appert: Apparently, we hit the goaltender.

Martin: With what?

Appert: We hit the goaltender into the post and knocked the post off, or something of that nature. Not sure.
Appert was rather standoffish during this exchange. There was a good five seconds of silence after he said the ref should be concerned about it - a comment that could possibly have been the ultimate trigger. But why shouldn't the ref be concerned about blowing a call that cost a team the opportunity to play for one, and possibly two points in overtime?

Later, Appert talked more about his reaction.
WNYT Reporter: Coach, I know I haven't covered you or RPI for all that long, but the way you reacted to the call, do you remember a time in your career reacting like that to a certain call?

Appert: I'm sure I get emotional sometimes. I try not to. I try to be less emotional as I'm getting older and feeling much older. I want to keep the bench calm and we're doing a better job of that in the last year and a half. I think I react emotionally when you know the call is wrong. And it's not why we lost, I want to make that abundantly clear. Full credit to Union, I would appreciate it if everybody would put that in their story. I give full credit to Union, to Nate (Leaman) and his staff for the victory. Absolute full credit. The goal is not why we lost. But...

Ed Weaver, The Record: ...that's why you're not in overtime right now.

Jason Klump, College Hockey News: Why did you lose, then?

Appert: We lost because we were in the box too much.
He's right - the Engineers did take too many penalties on Friday, and limiting them on Saturday helped them win, but let's be real. The disallowed goal would have made it 2-2. Did they play a perfect game? No. Could they have gotten the goal earlier? Yes. They didn't. But they did get it before 60:00, which is all that was asked of them. To disregard a terrible call just because they could have scored another goal in the preceding 59:52 is a joke. Yale lost 4-3 on Sunday when they could have won 6-4 if they'd scored 3 more goals earlier in the game, right? Same stupid argument.

Meanwhile, apparently Nate Leaman is allowed to trash talk Appert in his own press conference from that night while avoiding the obvious.
Schott: We got to see a video of it, and for us it was tough to tell. We were surprised Seth would actually show us the video of the play.

Nate Leaman: Whatever. That wasn't the game. I thought the game was [Allen] York... I thought we had some chances to make it 3-1, and some chances to make it 2-0, and I think York held them in there.

If that goal hadn't been waved off, would you have been asking why it wasn't?

Leaman: That's not the game. You guys are making that call the game, that's what [Appert] wants, he wants that call to be the game, that's what he wants to sell to his team.
Well, first, that's wrong, although I'm sure Leaman hadn't been around for the Appert press-conference. Second, dodging that question's pretty much proof positive that he knows they got the benefit from a lousy call.

Then, of course, Leaman not only whines about the press coverage the next night - the press coverage after a victory - he withholds his team from the media. And nothing.

But hey. At least he didn't make the league look bad.

It's time for the ECAC to man up. The video seems to indicate that RPI was deprived of not one but two goals which probably should have counted this weekend. Union should have had the benefit at the end of Saturday's game of having the video to check to make sure the goal should have counted. There. Is. A. Problem. Sticking your head in the sand and putting your crosshairs on those pointing out the problem instead of fixing it is exactly why this league is becoming more and more of a laughingstock in the college hockey world.

If this leads to some kind of positive action by the league on fixing the officiating problems that have plagued the ECAC for years - problems that Paul Stewart was supposedly brought in to bring to heel THREE years ago, then this suspension is worth it. If not, it's just another indication of the downward spiral. Who's the martyr going to be, Mr. Hagwell? Seth Appert or Paul Stewart?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ECAC Power Rankings (November)

On a monthly basis, we'll go over the teams of the ECAC and see where they rank up until they get an equal number of games under their belts, which actually doesn't happen until just before the last week of the season this year thanks to the odd league schedule.

These aren't revised predictions by any stretch of the imagination (although some of the preseason picks are obviously already proving true or false), but rather an indication of how well the teams are playing right now.

1. Yale (5-1-0, 2-0-0 ECAC) - With apologies to Dennis Green, the Bulldogs are who we thought they were. Lots of goals - 32 in 6 games, more than RPI has scored in 11 games (28) and tops in the nation by almost a goal per game at a ridiculous 5.33 - and weak goaltending. The former has by and large counteracted the latter, and if not for a 3rd period collapse at Air Force on Sunday, Yale would still have a perfect record and would possibly be ranked #1 in the nation right now. As it is, they're still the best team in the ECAC. Their biggest test yet comes in the first week of December when they host the Capital District - two teams with solid defenses and the ability to score themselves.

2. Union (7-2-3, 2-1-1 ECAC) - We don't need to tell WaP readers how closely matched Union and RPI are given the events of the past weekend, and it's no different with the power rankings. We give the Dutchmen the nod thanks to their amazing power play, which has proven over the last three weekends to be no fluke (although their rating is indeed somewhat lower than it had been), still tops in the nation at an impressive 37% to fuel the 5th best offense in the country.

3. RPI (5-3-3, 2-2-0 ECAC) - Questions about the Engineer defense are starting to recede completely thanks to Allen York and the defensive corps' numbers - a team GAA of 1.82, the second best showing in the nation. The offense still needs a kick in the pants to the tune of at least one more goal per weekend on average to be solid all the way around, but the defense is keeping them in games - each of RPI's three losses were by a single goal.

4. Dartmouth (3-2-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) - The Big Green may have found the answer to their goaltending questions in junior James Mello. He has made three straight appearances for Dartmouth, giving up only two goals, including a shutout of Union's solid offense. Meanwhile, the potent offense that was dormant against RPI and Union reawakened in the North Country, as they battered Clarkson and SLU for 13 goals in two nights. We knew they were going to have the offense, and if Mello stays solid, they could well be as good as I expected they could. Mark our words - the two points RPI picked up in Hanover are going to be huge in February.

5. Princeton (3-3-0, 3-1-0 ECAC) - The Tigers are off to a hot start, and it's by-and-large thanks to the two freshmen we pointed out in Princeton's "Know Your Enemy" entry: goaltender Sean Bonar and forward Andrew Calof. The former is impressing with a 1.48 GAA and .944 save percentage in his two appearances (the Tigers are still rotating their three goaltenders), while the latter is leading all freshmen in the NCAA in points per game with 1.83 (2-9-11 in 6 games). In fact, the Tigers are undefeated away from Ingalls Rink this year - they lost a pair of one-goal games in the Ivy Shootout, then lost to Yale before winning three straight over Brown, Colgate, and Cornell.

6. Quinnipiac (5-4-1, 1-2-1 ECAC) - The Bobcats are hard to pin down. All of their losses are by multiple goals, and they've only won a pair of one-goal games. What does that mean? It's been pretty much feast or famine so far. They took impressive wins over Ohio State and St. Cloud State, and then turned around and lost badly to those same schools the next night. They could only tie Brown, and were taken to the woodshed by Yale and Cornell. And after all that, they still get a fairly high rating at the bottom edge of the top half of the league - because they've been almost perfectly mediocre all around, not excelling anywhere, but certainly not having any glaring issues other than the mediocrity.

7. Clarkson (5-4-2, 1-2-1 ECAC) - Don't look now, but the Golden Knights have a winning record after 10 games. The problem is, they've largely squandered their early-season home advantage. While RPI and Union have a back-loaded home schedule, Clarkson's is front-loaded, with five of their eleven home games coming on three consecutive weekends - the last two, and the upcoming. They've taken only 3 of a possible 8 points at home so far, with St. Lawrence heading up Route 11 on Saturday for the last game of the homestand. That doesn't bode well down the road, and defense has been a big part of the problem. In three of their four losses thus far, the Knights gave up six or more goals and scored only two goals in those games. But just ask St. Cloud State and Harvard - if you turn your back on these guys, they'll surprise you.

8. Cornell (2-4-0, 2-2-0 ECAC) - Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Before the season, we questioned the Big Red's scoring ability, and that's actually not going too badly, although it's been a roller-coaster ride in the first six games. The goaltending situation is dicey, though. Freshman Andy Iles is undoubtedly the most talented goaltender in Ithaca, but he's going through wholly expected growing pains, and Mike Schafer is also giving significant playing time to junior Mike Garman, who has struggled to be kind. If Iles makes the US Junior Team, they'll need Garman to be the man in Florida and maybe at Quinnipiac and Princeton in December and January, so he needs some playing time. Most people thought Cornell's defensive scheme would mitigate these issues. That doesn't seem to have been the case so far.

9. Harvard (2-2-0, 2-2-0 ECAC) - The Crimson, as pretty much everyone expected, are having trouble scoring goals. They're dead last in the nation in goals per game with 1.75, notching only seven in four games (and that's a dramatic increase from their opening weekend, where they got two in two). They've also only given up seven goals in four games for a 1.75 GAA that is #1 in the nation, thanks to senior Kyle Richter, a former Dryden Award winner. If that trend continues, they're going to be involved in a lot of low-scoring, unpredictable one-goal games - kinda like the one RPI played with them two weekends ago. That may not necessarily be a recipe for great success, but in the ECAC it might be enough to snag home-ice in the first round if they can get good offense every few games. Is Harvard the anti-Yale in more ways than one now?

10. Brown (1-2-1, 0-1-1 ECAC) - To nobody's great surprise, defense has been hard to come by in Brown's first four games. Like Cornell, the offense has not been terrible, but it hasn't been enough to make up for what has largely been a lousy defensive situation. To some extent, that's a function of the teams they've played - the Bears blew a 3-1 lead against Yale in their first game, and their other games have been one goal affairs. The problem is, the offense just isn't talented enough to win footraces with a quality scoring outfit, and they need to be better at defending leads.

11. St. Lawrence (2-6-3, 2-2-0 ECAC) - Two weeks ago, the Saints were looking like a team that was destined for the cellar after going 0-4-3 to start the season outside the conference. Then they gave up only 1 goal on the weekend while sweeping their opening weekend at home against Cornell and Colgate, their first two wins of the year. Then they gave up 10 goals while being swept at home the next weekend by Harvard and Princeton. That opening weekend has them here instead of in 12th. If freshman goaltender Matt Weninger can get back to putting up the numbers he did that weekend, the Saints may avoid falling back down.

12. Colgate (2-5-1, 0-3-1 ECAC) - The Raiders have only given up one more goal than they've scored, but they did have a game against Sacred Heart - who has been a punching bag for pretty much everyone they've played - which they won 5-0. Throw out that game, and Colgate is 1-5-1 with a -6 goal differential. Their first four ECAC games were a nightmare, earning only one point against a weak North Country duo and then getting swept at home. Both special teams have been putrid, earning Colgate the worst combined rating in the nation. Things need to turn around quickly in Hamilton if the Raiders are going to live up to the lofty expectations placed on them before the season. Otherwise, they're going to start drawing comparisons to last year's Princeton team.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Yale & Brown (12/13 Nov)

RPI continued its foray into the ECAC schedule with another weekend on the road at Yale and Brown. Yale, expected by all to be the tougher opponent on the weekend, fell 4-1 to RPI in front of a record crowd of 1,066, however the Engineers faltered against the Bears the following night, being shutout 1-0 despite compiling a significant advantage in shots on goal and overall play.



Le Donne/Vadner

Van der Bliek

Ingalls Rink saw a record crowd of 1,066 Friday night at the Bulldogs hosted “White-Out for Mandi”, a fundraising effort for Yale center Mandi Schwartz who is battling leukemia. The event raised over $9,000, including a $1,000 donation from RPI made possible in part by fan donations at last weekend’s home games at Houston Field House.

Unfortunately for the large home crowd, it was RPI who came out the victor on the ice, thanks in no small part to freshman Jordan Smelker’s hat trick in the second and third periods. Smelker struck first on the power play early in the second period, just nine seconds into a penalty on Yale’s Samantha MacLean, redirecting a shot by Andie Le Donne to give RPI a 1-0 lead. Smelker struck again near the midpoint of the period during a long 5-on-3 power play opportunity, taking a pass from Taylor Horton and putting it home to make it 2-0.

A little over four minutes later, Sydney O’Keefe extended the Engineer lead to 3-0 when a missed Yale pass gave the Engineers an opportunity to carry the puck down the ice for the score. The teams hit the lockers after two periods with RPI strong in play and dominant on the scoreboard, racking up a 23-15 advantage in shots on goal through two.

Smelker completed her hat trick just 25 seconds into the final period with assists going to Alisa Harrison and Taylor Horton. Yale would avoid the shutout with a goal from Aleca Hughes at 5:07, but that would be the only goal from the Bulldogs, who were handily outshot by a 17-5 margin in the final frame en route to a final score of 4-1.



Le Donne/Vadner

Van der Bliek

If anyone had suggested Friday afternoon that Brown would come out with the most points on the weekend, they probably would have been considered crazy. But the Bears did just that with a shocking victory over the Engineers the day after tying Union, making it a 3-point weekend for the team from Providence.

In a fast-paced game which was played in just 1:50 and only had three penalties called, the Engineers piled shot after shot on Brown netminder Katie Jamieson, who turned away all 37 she faced. Sonja van der Bliek saw much less rubber, facing only 11 shots on goal, but it was the last one which did the trick. Just 10 seconds after a Brown power play ended, freshman Jessica Hoyle intercepted an RPI pass in the Engineers’ zone, made a move to beat van der Bliek, and put the puck in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. It was one of just two Brown shots in the third period.

Despite a furious comeback attempt by the Engineers, who pulled van der Bliek in favor of the extra attacker in the final minute, Jamieson held firm and kept the Engineers off the board to pick up the Bears second win on the season (and first in ECAC play). It was a disappointing conclusion to the weekend for the Engineers, who miss out on two points that much of the league will likely pick up while playing Brown, but Friday’s solid win remains as a reminder that the Engineers can still make some noise this weekend. Perhaps more importantly, it reinforced the fact that Jordan Smelker is poised to become one of the top rookies in the league. She is now 17th in the nation for point scoring, leads the ECAC in power play goals with three, and is tied for third in the league in freshman scoring with five points in ECAC play.

The Engineers return home next weekend for a pair of nonconference games against the Purple Eagles from Niagara. Friday evening’s game (7pm) will be carried on WRPI, while it’s not clear yet whether Saturday’s game (2pm) will be on the air as WRPI will be covering football in the ECAC Northwest Bowl at St. John Fisher at noon. As usual, both games will also have video broadcast on B2/America One, and Without a Peer will have live tweets at


RPI vs. Yale
ECAC Hockey Game – Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
11/12/10 – 7:00pm
RPI 4, Yale 1

RECORD: 4-6-2 (3-2-0 ECAC)


RPI vs. Brown
ECAC Hockey Game – Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
11/13/10 – 4:00pm
Brown 1, RPI 0

RECORD: 4-7-2 (3-3-0 ECAC)


ECAC Standings
            Points     ECAC     All
Dartmouth 10 5-1 5-1
Cornell 8 4-0 6-1
Princeton 7 3-3-1 3-5-1
Harvard 6 2-2-2 2-2-2
Rensselaer 6 3-3 4-7-2
Quinnipiac 6 3-4 8-5-1
Clarkson 4 2-0 4-7-1
Brown 3 1-2-1 2-3-1
Yale 3 1-2-1 1-5-2
St. Lawrence 2 1-1 4-5-2
Colgate 2 1-3 4-8
Union 1 0-5-1 1-10-1

Upcoming Games

Nov. 19 – Niagara (7pm)
Nov. 20 – Niagara (2pm)
Nov. 26 – at Syracuse (7pm)
Nov. 27 – at Syracuse (2pm)
Dec. 3 – at Union (7pm)
Dec. 4 – Union (4pm)



The Engineers went 1-1-0 last week, defeating Yale (4-1) before falling at Brown (1-0) the following day. Rookie Jordan Smelker (Anchorage, AK) recorded her first career hat-trick against the Bulldogs, including the eventual game-winning goal in the second period.

Rensselaer (4-7-2; 3-3-0 ECACH) returns to the ice this weekend, hosting Niagara for a pair of non-conference games at the Houston Field House. The Engineers take on the Purple Eagles on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (2pm). Friday’s game can be followed live courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM WRPI or log on to

Live stats will also be available at and will feature a live pay-per-view webcast at

Men's Hockey - Union (12/13 Nov)

They said it couldn't be done, but RPI and Union just keep finding new and inventive ways to ratchet up the intensity. In a weekend that will likely go down in the lore of both schools, the Engineers and Dutchmen played a hard-fought home-and-home series that had plenty of just about everything, including late-game action and controversial finishes. On Friday in Schenectady, the Engineers walked away on the losing end of a 2-1 final after having a goal disallowed in the waning moments, then returned the next night to take advantage of a major penalty in Troy to tie the game in the final second before winning in overtime, 4-3.




With Alex Angers-Goulet recovered from his infection, he was re-inserted into the lineup, replacing Johnny Rogic and Matt Tinordi replacing Greg Burgdoerfer. Without Rogic, Marty O'Grady centered the fourth line.

RPI survived an early penalty kill, getting through a boarding call against O'Grady in the game's first six minutes, but the second call, a retaliatory penalty taken by Guy Leboeuf, resulted in the first goal of the game for Union as Daniel Carr scored his fifth goal of the season to put Union up 1-0. The Engineers would have their first power play shortly thereafter, but could not convert.

By the middle of the second period, the RPI penalty kill had basically been on the ice for almost a third of the game, but had been holding steady, clicking at 4-for-5 by the time Union's Adam Presizniuk took a tripping penalty to negate the power play caused by Joel Malchuk's tripping call midway through the period.

Union continued to cling to its 1-0 lead until Nick Bailen, just two seconds after the end of RPI's fourth power play opportunity of the game, ripped a shot from near the blue line that beat Keith Kinkaid to tie the game.

After a back-and-forth opening to the third period, Matt Tinordi was called for roughing about six minutes in, giving Union their sixth power play - and so far this season, giving the Dutchmen that many power play opportunities has just been asking for trouble. That's exactly what the Engineers got as Jeremy Welsh scored to put Union up 2-1 at 7:39 of the third period.

With less than six minutes left in the game, the Engineers found themselves killing a 4-on-3 situation, and captain John Kennedy displayed the type of grit and tenacity that has become commonplace on the team under his leadership. In a very short span, Kennedy blocked two shots - one slapshot slamming into his skate, and a second one hitting his left hand. In obvious pain, the captain stayed out to finish his shift until the puck was cleared, dropping his glove as soon as he reached the bench. He would not return to the game.

Following an icing call with 1:20 left to play and the faceoff coming in the Union zone, Seth Appert called timeout and pulled Allen York, hoping to get the same type of late, tying goal that Union found in Lake Placid. With 7.6 seconds remaining on the clock, it appeared that Mike Bergin had done just that, as he redirected a shot by Nick Bailen past Kinkaid and into the back of the net. Referee Bryan Hicks had other ideas. After initially pointing to the net, he began waving off the goal, calling C.J. Lee, who had been screening Kinkaid, for goaltender interference (the infraction, not the penalty). Appert was livid. He stood on the the bench and angrily shouted at Hicks.

On the ensuing faceoff, both teams basically came to blows, but only Union's Justin Pallos was called for roughing, practically a make-up call to give the Engineers a faceoff in the Union zone at 6-on-4 with five seconds left, but it didn't make any difference whatsoever, as Union took the 2-1 victory. In the post-game press conference, Appert interrupted the interviews of Bailen and Kennedy to place a laptop on the dais and replay the disallowed goal, captured through the lens of the RPI game camera. He did not explicitly say it was a bad call, but the video did seem to indicate that Lee was nowhere near making contact with Kinkaid, nor was he in the crease.




Kennedy's hand was X-rayed in Albany after the game on Friday, and he was scratched from Saturday's game. The expectation is that he will probably be out for 4-6 weeks, leaving RPI with six defensemen, and necessarily ending the freshman rotation that Appert has been using until Kennedy's return. The captain stood alongside the coaches on the RPI bench, an unusual place for a scratch, continuing his role as a leader despite being unable to take his place on the ice.

The only other changes to the lineup were Johnny Rogic's return as the fourth-line center, bumping O'Grady to the wing on the fourth line and moving Matt Tinordi out of the lineup, and Scott Halpern's return in place of Justin Smith. The Engineers' top two lines, the Polacek and Malchuk lines, seem to be pretty firm, and the third line of Patrick Cullen, Brock Higgs, and Josh Rabbani has been the same for two straight weekends.

After failing to score on an early power play opportunity, the Engineers appeared to get the game's first goal midway through the first period when Rogic threw the puck in towards Halpern, who drove the net. Kinkaid made the initial save, but the puck squirted behind him and sat in the crease before eventually ending up in the back of the net. The goal was immediately waved off, with the official ruling being that the net was dislodged. A replay, however, shows that while the net didn't seem to move at all, the puck was put in by a skate - that of Union's Nolan Julseth-White, who was defending against Rogic to the left of the crease and accidentally knocked the puck in. The goal should have counted, credited to Halpern, but the Engineers instead had a second consecutive goal wiped off the board. RPI fans loudly voiced their disagreement.

The first period ended with no score, though the Engineers were the better of the sides during the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Dutchmen 14-3. The second period started off well for RPI, as they had a productive power play early on after an interference call against Kinkaid, doing everything but putting it home. The momentum turned quickly, however, as the Dutchmen finally earned their first even-strength goal of the season against the Engineers two minutes later as Justin Pallos scored to make it 1-0 Union.

With the Engineers continuing to struggle on the power play - they had two more opportunities to score on the man advantage after the Pallos goal, only to fall to 0-for-10 on the weekend - Union struck again to make things worse with a goal by Matt Hatch with 5:30 left in the 2nd to make it 2-0. The Dutchmen went into lockdown mode, as is their norm with a two-goal lead, shortly thereafter, but RPI played so poorly as the clock wound down for the 2nd period that Unino continued to have opportunities to score. It was not until Daniel Carr took a tripping penalty in the final minute that the Engineers finally showed some signs of life.

The power play carried over into the third period, and RPI got themselves on the board by finally converting with the man advantage as Patrick Cullen scored his first goal of the season from Brock Higgs and Nick Bailen to cut Union's lead in half, just one minute into the third. From there, the game turned into a back and forth slugfest until Mike Bergin took a hooking call midway through, setting Union up on only their second power play of the game. But it was RPI who would be celebrating a goal with Bergin in the box. Bailen led a breakout going the other way, eventually connecting with Joel Malchuk, who finally landed his first goal of the season in shorthanded fashion, just over midway through the Bergin penalty, to tie the game at two.

Two minutes after Bergin returned to the ice, Brock Higgs took a tripping call in the defensive zone, setting the top power play in the country back up for the third time, and the Dutchmen delivered. With Allen York sprawled out trying to cover the puck, it squirted loose to RPI legend Mark Jooris' son Josh, who put the puck on net. Bergin was standing in the net to cover for York, and while Bergin made the save, the puck dropped straight down onto the goal line and barely made it over, before Bergin's skate swept it out of the area, putting Union back up on top.

An RPI power play shortly thereafter was unproductive, and the Engineers weren't getting many good looks at Kinkaid as time started to wind down. They were granted a reprieve, however, with 1:51 left in regulation as Union freshman Mike Ingoldsby hammered C.J. Lee into the boards from behind near the penalty boxes. The referees wasted no time in assessing a 5-minute major and a game misconduct to Ingoldsby, and with the faceoff coming in the Union zone, Allen York was pulled to make it a long 6-on-4. The Dutchmen had three potshots at the open net without icing being in effect, but they were unable to seal the victory. Meanwhile, the Engineers never quit, taking every shot they could when the time was right. Kinkaid made a number of saves, but he couldn't stop the last shot, a rebound of a Chase Polacek shot that bounced left to Marty O'Grady, who buried the puck just before the buzzer sounded. Officially, the goal was scored at 19:59, and 0.2 seconds were put back on the clock, as the puck had crossed the line before the green light came on to end the game. O'Grady's second goal of the season sent the game to overtime, where the Engineers would still have over 3 minutes of power play time thanks to the Ingoldsby major.

The 5-on-4 power play wasn't producing much in the extra session until Julseth-White was called on a dangerous cross-check in the corner that, after review, was certainly dangerous enough to warrant a call in overtime. That gave the Engineers a 5-on-3 of well over a minute, and after patiently waiting for the right shot and shooting wide several times, Nick Bailen blasted one from the right side faceoff circle that found the back of the net, completing the amazing comeback and sending the Field House into a frenzy.

All four of the Engineers' goals came on special teams, including a 3-for-9 record on the power play, to carry RPI to a season split with Union. The teams went 1-1-1 against each other this season, and they will not face each other again before the ECAC Tournament. They remain undefeated in the Black Friday game (which was on a Saturday this year), now 7-0-1 all time, and beat Union in Troy for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

The Engineers are off this coming weekend. They will return to action the day after Thanksgiving, when they host UConn in the annual RPI Holiday Tournament. They face Alabama-Huntsville or Bowling Green on the second night.

Other junk - RPI's second consecutive ECAC weekend split has them holding steady in the national polls for the second straight week, as they will be #18 in the nation for the third straight week, ranked for the fourth straight week overall. #5 Yale (down two, beat Colorado College and lost to Air Force) and #14 Union (down two) are the only other ECAC teams in the rankings, while #2 Boston University (down one, 11 first place votes, tied Merrimack twice) remains the only ranked non-conference opponent of the Engineers. Also receiving votes this week were Dartmouth (18), Cornell (9), Princeton (4), Colorado College (3), Clarkson (2), Niagara (2), and Quinnipiac (1).

Nick Bailen's huge weekend - 2 goals and 2 assists - propelled him up into the upper reaches of the nation in scoring by a defenseman. He's second in the nation in points per game from the blue line, and third in total scoring. Additionally, at 4-8-12, he's only a point off the team's overall lead in scoring (Chase Polacek, 5-8-13). Keith Kinkaid is thanking his lucky stars that he won't see Bailen again this season - Bailen had a goal in all three games against Union.

Chase Polacek's next goal will be his 50th as an Engineer. His two assists on Saturday moved him past Tony Hejna on the all-time points list - his 125 career points has him alone in 38th all time at RPI. Next on the list are Wayne Clark '95 (126), Tim Regan '96 and Neil Hernberg '87 (both 129). If he can duplicate his point totals from last year, he would be among the Top 20 scorers in RPI history.

Tyler Helfrich's primary assist on the game-winning goal on Saturday was the 80th point of his career. He is the only potential addition to the RPI Century Club this season, and would need the best statistical season of his career - 32 points - to reach that mark.

ECAC Standings
1. Princeton - 3-1-0 (6 pts)
2. Dartmouth - 2-1-1 (5 pts)
3. Union - 2-1-1 (5 pts)
4. Yale - 2-0-0 (4 pts)
5. Cornell - 2-2-0 (4 pts)
6. RPI - 2-2-0 (4 pts)
7. Harvard - 2-2-0 (4 pts)
8. St. Lawrence - 2-2-0 (4 pts)
9. Quinnipiac - 1-2-1 (3 pts)
10. Clarkson - 1-2-1 (3 pts)
11. Brown - 0-1-1 (1 pt)
12. Colgate - 0-3-1 (1 pt)

#18 RPI at #12 Union

ECAC Game - Achilles Center (Schenectady, NY)
11/12/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Union 2, RPI 1

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record
Albany Times Union
Schenectady Gazette

Schenectady Gazette
Goals (w/homer Union radio)

RECORD: 4-3-3 (1-2-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. D Nick Bailen, 1 G, 7 shots, +1
2. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 A, 3 shots
3. D John Kennedy, having big ones

#12 Union at #18 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/13/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Union 3 (OT)

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record

Albany Times Union

Schenectady Gazette

Schenectady Gazette
RPI TV - full game
Post-game press conference
Goals (no audio)

RECORD: 5-3-3 (2-2-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. D Nick Bailen, 1 G, 2 A, 4 shots
2. F Marty O'Grady, 1 G
3. F Chase Polacek, 2 A, 9 shots

Upcoming games
26 Nov - UConn (RPI Invitational)
27 Nov - Alabama-Huntsville/Bowling Green (RPI Invitational)
03 Dec - at #5 Yale
04 Dec - at Brown
11 Dec - #2 Boston University